The Story of Texxas Jam ’78
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On July 1, 1978, Texxas Jam rocked the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, and brought the summer mega-festival back to the Lone Star State after years of staunch refusal by local government agencies to grant long-haired rockers and their marauding fans permission to invade their hallowed stadiums. What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, this being Texas, it all naturally came down to football.
Four years earlier, ZZ Top had drawn 80,000 fans to the University of Texas’ Memorial Stadium in Austin, and left behind a ruined gridiron for the resident Longhorns to cope with, as their all-important college football season got under way.
This unintentional act of “vandalism” was deemed so serious that it wasn’t until July 1, 1978, that the promotional team behind the already well-established California Jam finally convinced Cotton Bowl officials to take a chance on an event that was to be officially named the Texxas World Music Festival.
Nicknamed the Texxas Jam shortly and forever after, the three-day festival brought a mix of rock and country artists to Dallas that fourth-of-July weekend; but it was the first day’s historic lineup of classic rockers – and the record-breaking heat that met them – that has since gone down in rock and roll folklore.
As an understandably excited crowd of 100,000 or more filed into the Cotton Bowl that day, their ears already filling with the songs of opening acts, Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush, Walter Egan (then enjoying his only hit, “Magnet and Steel”), Head East and a young Eddie Money, they were met by the hottest day of the decade.
By the time rising stars Van Halen, pop-rockers Journey and the Wilson sister-led Heart began taking their turns on stage, temperatures on the stadium floor had apparently tipped the 120-degree mark, and fire hoses had to be deployed in an attempt to help stave off mass occurrences of heat stroke among the attendees.
Luckily, it was going to take more than a little summer sun to scare away these rock-starved southerners, who fought through the adverse conditions to the bitter end (helped along the way by between-set comedy courtesy of Cheech & Chong) in order to greet with open arms the day’s headliners, Aerosmith and Ted Nugent.
Needless to say, those fans soon forgot all about the heat, and hung onto the musical memories, because the Texxas Jam would become a reliable summer institution for the next eleven years … and all it took was a little leniency from the football gods.
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